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  • Kathleen O'Brien

On Motherhood: Neither Catholic nor Secular

The question of vocation has always been a looming question for Catholics. And I mean vocation with the capital “V”. In college, this was often the question every young woman and man was asking themselves. Am I called to marriage, the priesthood, religious life? In very secular terms, this question of Vocation is asking the question: “How do I imagine myself in the future? Do I see myself as a mother caring for children?”


In college this question came so easy for the young women around me. Many of them have always dreamed of being mothers and having children since they were kids. It was almost a given that if you didn’t feel called to religious life then of course you have always wanted to be a mother then. To not want to have children and be a mother would be deemed as going along with the secular or feminist agenda. The question continued to loom over me as I deciphered what category Catholic I was. Do I see myself as a mother caring for children?


For me this question has never come easy to me. As a young woman in her 30’s now, the question of motherhood becomes more and more pertinent. More of my friends are getting married and having children of their own. To be honest, I haven’t been the type of woman that has dreamt of having children. It’s not that I didn’t like kids or didn’t want to get married, it’s just that my passions and interests in life have often taken precedence over wanting to have children. I can answer that question today saying I do see myself as a mother. But how I envision what it means to be a mother may be different from what both the secular world and catholic world expects of me.


God calls us at all stages to discern where we are called to be. Our image of motherhood may be different than the people around us but that does not discredit one’s calling of motherhood. God does not silo us into one image of what it means to be a mother. May we all discern what that looks like for each of us.





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